|Club Trip: Tour de Lincoln 2008|
Saturday 05/10/08 - Saturday morning found us at McBean Park once again in downtown Lincoln. Home of the Tour de Lincoln hosted by the Lincoln Volunteer Center. The air was a little crisp but not cool enough to want to put the warmers on. We knew that after a few miles on the road you'd pull them off anyways. Most notable was the lack of movement in the air. A cyclist's dream of not having any wind to deal with. In years past we've never been so lucky. Maybe our luck will hold out today. Registration was in full swing and things were filling up fast. After checking in and getting our route sheets we gathered at the agreed upon place and time. We met some new faces and talked about what we would hope to see out on the course today. We poured over the route sheet to examine the new changes and discussed where we would try and regroup at points along the way. It was then the appointed time for a group picture and then we headed out.
We wound through the parking lot and made a right turn out of the park and then a quick left to head down East Ave. This brought back memories from years ago when this is how the original route had started out. After a quick right on 12th Ave we then made a left on McCourtney. The pace was already quickening as you could feel the line surging ahead into the morning air.
Soon we made a fast right and found ourselves on Wise Road. This was a new piece to the route this year and was a nice change. We had not been on this part of Wise so it was fun as we got to take a peek at some of the many new views we would see along the way. As we pushed ahead the pack was beginning to expand. We had caught up with a large group and some fell back as the pace continued to increase. A few rollers came and went but the line continue to surge ahead.
As we continued our way around Wise Road we started a gradual climb. Up ahead there is a water station setup for those needing a quick refill. Some have pulled over but for the main line we can wait until the rest stop 12 miles ahead. From this point the climbing is getting tougher and the line has broken up. After Wise we head Right on Lozanos Road, another new turn that we have not been on. Packs are starting to form again but the climbing continues. Soon we're at the next turn of Chili Hill Road. This is a new one for me because we've always come from the opposite direction. We always climb this hill, but not today. Going down Chili takes some concentration as there are a number of turns and you need to pay attention to those in front of you. Its a quick drop and soon we're turning out onto Gold Hill Road.
We're only on Gold for a short bit and then we turn onto Ridge Road. Ridge Road is a long climb and makes you work from the beginning to the end. Now we slip back into familiar territory as we have ridden this stretch of road many times on this event and others as well. As soon as you turn onto Ridge it's a quick climb and then you continue to wander back and forth. Many times you think you are at the top only to drop a few feet and then climb once again. It's not until you make your way to the other side of the ridge until you can set back and enjoy the quick descent. Once at the bottom wait for traffic and then make two left turns that will put you at the first rest stop of the day.
As we pull into the park and ride lot it's just like old times. Sharp Bicycles is manning the mechanics tent and we quickly go over to say hi to our favorite bike store crew in town. They are displaying the new custom jersey and it looks sharp! We head over to the other tent where the crowds are gathering and grab some snacks, fruit, and liquids. It's already starting to warm up but the winds are managing to stay away. In a mater of minutes the club is all present and talking about the new route. The views are nice and the markings so far have been well done to allow for an easy transition from point to point.
We've refueled and we're already on the way out. Soon we drop down Lozanos Road enjoying the fast descent. Once at the bottom it's a quick down shift as we begin the climb up Bald Hill Road. Just as we start to get into the rhythm of the climb we hit the mid point and turn left on Crater Hill Road. This takes us down and around back to Wise.
We're now back tracking out to get over to Baxter Grade. There are cyclists on both sides of the road. Traffic is on the very light side so we don't have to worry about cars coming at both of us. We pass by the water station again, the crowds have picked up here and we have to be careful as we move through this area. As we continue through our speed picks up. Riders on the other side just starting out are looking at us as we move along at a fast pace. Soon we're at the point we came in at and it's time to make a right and head up Baxter Grade.
The first thing you notice about Baxter Grade is it is a small narrow road. While there is room for two cars I wouldn't want to be on it with two cars. The grade climbs quickly and the pace slows down fast. We drop down into the lowest gear and start climbing slowly. Around the middle of the climb you look up ahead and think it's about to end. Then you round the bend and watch the road snake up ahead even further. With no clear site of the tree line it makes it hard to tell when this thing ends. Just as you think you're going to quit and start walking, stand up and pump it a few more times, you're almost there. Around the next bend you'll see the farm house and know that you're made it. The top is here and it's time to coast down to the next turn, Mt Vernon Road.
Mt Vernon is our favorite descent. With a little practice you can be ready for the tight turns and fast pace all the way to the bottom. There are a few spots that you have to be ready for or you will over shoot the turn and head into a field. We quickly pass those not familiar with the area and chase others that have been here before.
Soon enough we're down out of the hill and back on to Wise Road. The course is now merging with the other routes and cross traffic is coming through. Others are coming through at a much slower pace and you need to watch for them. Once through this piece you can continue on to the second rest stop of the day.
It's time to fill up on liquids, put some ice in the water bottles, and fill up on fruits again. The crowd here is larger because of the overlap with the two routes. Lines are a little longer but the support crew is working fast to keep everyone happy. There are large poster maps printed out so you can take a look at the new route with a volunteer standing by to answer any questions. They point out that there will be more climbing ahead with the new route change.
Back on the road the line begins to form again with the flat road. The pace picks up and we're moving through at 22 to 23 mph. It's always nice to hang on to a line as it tends to pull you through. For the next 5 or 6 miles the line stays constant until we pull off of McCourtney and on S Forbes. We round the corner and hit a bit of a climb. Nothing huge but enough to slow you down and break apart the main line. A few surge ahead and the rest are left to slog it out on their own. This piece is new to the route and is a welcome change. The closer you get to Camp Far West Reservoir the heavier the weekend boat traffic is. Too many trucks toting boats behind them. By pulling off of McCourtney you loose much of that traffic. Instead we wind around through the area and enjoy more of the farm views. After a few climbs it's back out to McCourtney for a quick mile or so and then you pull off onto Karchner Road.
Again a new piece of the route. Usually you stay on McCourtney all the way around and follow some of the Reservoir, then you take a terrible road that goes over two cow crossings and a road that doubles for a mine field. Not anymore. Instead Karchner pulls you out of that loop and instead hooks you into Thousand Oaks back onto the regular route. A nice change indeed. With the climbs out of the way the pace picks up again for the next few miles as you make your way to the Manzanita Rest Stop, the last rest stop of the day.
The crew at this rest stop always have the fun of greeting us with words of encouragement and congratulating us on a good ride. We come in and head for the tent to fill up on liquids and snacks again. Be careful not to fill up on too much, lunch is only 6 miles away. We don't wait too long before we get going again.
We settle into a nice pace and tighten up the line to make it through the last few miles. The rest is flat and plenty of room as we make our way through. Car traffic has picked up on this section of Wise put we don't stay on it for very long. We've pulled off of it and are heading South on McCourtney again, next onto 12th, and then back on East. It's a last pull on through and then where are the light making a right, then a left, and we're back at last.
We follow the sound of music and the smell of lunch to the large covered picnic area setup for the feast of the day. We're greeted by volunteers and welcomed with large plates of food. "This year we have a treat for you," we're told, "BBQ Ribs." And a treat it is. Ribs, chicken, hot dogs, or hamburgers. Or a little of each if you want. Soon enough we have our plates full and we're sitting enjoying each others stories. This great lunch is topped off with a treat of ice cream.
We sit and enjoy the sounds, meet new friends, catch up with old ones, and talk with volunteers about the new routes. We thank others for taking so much time to make this event happen and want them to know we like the changes. Between all the practice we've done in the hills and the great weather we managed to finish in record time. Another safe and successful event, we'll be back for more next year for sure.